API gateway security best practices
You should take into account API Gateway’s security practices while developing and implementing your own security rules. This list of recommended practices is a comprehensive security solution. This is because best practices may be applicable or sufficient for your security situation.
Web APIs are quite sensitive. With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, securing these integrations has become mission crucial. Fortunately, by following a few basic practices, API providers can avoid any possible risks.
We’ll go through the top API security best practices, which are important to remember while designing and developing APIs.
Always make use of a gateway.
Our first piece of advice is to always place your API behind a gateway. API gateways concentrate traffic features and apply them to every API request. These characteristics, such as rate restriction, barring rogue clients, and proper logging, may be security-related. Or they could be more practical and business-related, such as revising path and headers, analyzing business analytics, and so on.
A major security hazard might readily arise if these procedures are not in place. Without a gateway, API providers would have to reinforce each endpoint individually with these characteristics. An API gateway facilitates the addition or modification of these features. Luckily, there are a plethora of API Gateway options available.
Use a centralized Authentication server.
Following that, do not allow your APIs or Gateways to issue Access or Refresh Tokens. Such tokens should always be issued by a centralized authentication server. Token issuance requires many complicated steps, including
- Authenticating the server.
- Authenticating the user.
- Approving the client.
- Verifying the tokens and other actions.
These operations require access to various data sources, such as client information or the selected authentication technique.
Furthermore, managing all of the passwords needed to sign the issued keys becomes increasingly difficult if multiple entities issue and sign tokens. Only one entity can handle these processes safely – and Authorize server.
Use JSON Web Tokens
The use of JWTs as API access and refresh tokens is a recommended practice. Informed business decisions can be made by services that get JWTs based on the claim information they receive. This resource is available to the caller. What information can the caller access?
The JWT protocol is not recommended for external clients. Instead, you should utilize transparent tokens. It’s simple to decode, and everyone can see the information included in a JWT. Privacy concerns arise if JWT data is made public.
The JWT claims must, therefore, be free of sensitive information. If you share JWTs with your third-party clients, they will very likely come to rely on the data contained inside. Third-party clients may be forced to adapt their implementations due to changing claims in a JWT, which could be costly.
Use Claims for API-Level Access Control
Always implement fine-grained API access control. Even if a malicious request gets through the Gateway, the API should deny it. This prevents attackers from bypassing the Gateway.
Invalid requests should be rejected by the API. In addition, it should verify the caller’s permissions to the data and what information can be returned (both for the client and user). Broken access control is one of the top 10 API security problems, so keep in mind.
Leave no API unprotected. Internal APIs should also be protected. The API is thus protected from internal threats.
APIs are frequently established for internal usage exclusively and later made public. In such cases, API security is often neglected. The API becomes attackable when released externally.
Remember that obscurity is not recommended. Just because you label an endpoint or Content-Type something complicated doesn’t make it secure. It won’t be long until someone abuses the endpoint.
Setting high standards for your APIs, both in terms of security and design, is not easy. Consider dividing responsibility and having other teams audit your APIs.
There are several approaches to establishing API governance. An experienced team could evaluate the design and security.